Duke Energy projects nearly 1 million power outages in Carolinas due to approaching winter storm; company ready to respond

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  • Customers in storm’s path should prepare for multi-day power outages. 

  • Thousands of workers ready to begin power restoration after storm passes, including 5,400 line technicians and vegetation specialists.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Duke Energy today projected that the hazardous wintry precipitation and high-winds from the approaching winter storm could cause nearly 1 million power outages – some lasting several days – beginning Thursday in North Carolina and South Carolina, based on the storm’s current forecasted track.

Duke Energy has thousands of employees supporting the company’s response, including 5,400 line technicians and vegetation workers. More than 1,300 of those workers are from the company’s Midwest and Florida service areas and from other companies providing assistance.

Ice buildup causing trees and branches to fall on power lines is usually the culprit for power outages during an ice storm. Ice buildup of a quarter-inch or more is often the threshold amount that causes trees and branches to fall.

The storm comes on the heels of last weekend’s winter storm which caused significant outages in the northern part of North Carolina, as well as the Triad and Triangle areas of the state.

Duke Energy meteorologists continue to monitor weather conditions and the company is making plans accordingly. Line technicians, service crews and other personnel throughout Duke Energy's service area are prepared to respond as outages and emergencies occur.

As part of the company’s preparation, workers are checking equipment, supplies and inventories to ensure workers have adequate materials to make repairs and restore power outages.

Duke Energy has completed aerial inspections of its transmission lines in the communities expected to be hit hardest, and found no immediate threats.  

The company has an adequate supply of electricity to meet energy demands; outages related to power generation are not expected.

Weather and travel conditions might be hazardous and challenging following the storm’s impact, and could delay Duke Energy workers’ ability to access areas to fully assess storm damage and restore electric service.

Following the storm, crews will first assess the extent of damage – which can sometimes take 24 hours or more – to determine which crews, equipment and supplies are needed.

Damage assessments occur while other workers simultaneously restore power in some areas. Estimated times of restoration will be provided when damage assessments are completed.

The company will provide regular updates to its customers and communities via email, text messages, outbound phone calls, social media and its website.

Customers should prepare

Duke Energy urges customers to have a plan in place now, in the event they experience an extended power outage.

With temperatures forecasted to be below freezing Friday and Saturday in many areas of both states, customers should consider alternative locations for family members who are elderly or who have special medical needs, if outages are extended.

When checking on neighbors and friends, be sure to follow social distancing recommendations, local orders and restrictions, and other CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others.

Tips to help you and your family stay safe

  • Create (or update) an emergency supply kit to save valuable time later. The kit should include everything an individual or family would need for at least two weeks, especially medicines, water, non-perishable foods, blankets, travel bags and other supplies that might be hard to find after a storm strikes. Your emergency kit should also include items that can help protect you and others from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer, bar or liquid soap, and face coverings aligned with CDC guidance.

  • Keep a portable radio or TV, or NOAA weather radio on hand to monitor weather forecasts and important information from state and local officials.

  • Charge cellphones, computers and other electronic devices in advance of storms to stay connected to important safety and response information. Consider purchasing portable chargers and make sure they are fully charged as well.

  • Stay away from power lines that have fallen or are sagging. Consider all lines energized as well as trees or limbs in contact with lines. Please report downed power lines to Duke Energy.

  • If a power line falls across a car that you're in, stay in the car. If you MUST get out of the car due to a fire or other immediate life-threatening situation, do your best to jump clear of the car and land on both feet. Be sure that no part of your body is touching the car when your feet touch the ground.

  • If you use a generator due to a power outage, follow the manufacturer's instructions to ensure safe and proper operation. Operate your generator outside. Never operate it inside a building or garage.

Reporting outages and receiving updates

Before a storm hits, customers can sign up to receive outage alerts, and ensure contact information is current and communication preferences specified. Throughout the storm, the company will also provide updates to customers via email, phone, text and the website.

Customers who experience a power outage can report it the following ways:

  • Visit duke-energy.com on a desktop computer or mobile device.

  • Use the Duke Energy mobile app – download the Duke Energy App from a smartphone via Apple Store or Google Play.

  • Text OUT to 57801 (standard text and data charges may apply).

  • Call Duke Energy’s automated outage-reporting system:
    • Duke Energy Carolinas: 1-800-POWERON (1-800-769-3766)
    • Duke Energy Progress: 800.419.6356 

Lake levels

Heavy rainfall will result in higher lake and river levels across the Catawba River basin. Duke Energy is moving water through the river system, including moving water through our hydro generating units and flood gates.

Lake residents should prepare for possible flooding conditions and closely monitor lake levels. High water conditions can create navigational hazards.

The company urges people living along lakes and rivers, and in flood-prone areas, to use caution, follow directions from emergency management officials, pay close attention to changing weather and stream-flow conditions, and stay informed.  

We are posting real-time updates on:

  • duke-energy.com/lakes

  • Duke Energy’s lake services phone line: 800.829.5253

  • Duke Energy’s free Lake View app (downloadable from your cell phone app store)

Duke Energy also will provide updates on its social media channels to keep customers informed if significant outages occur:

B-roll and photography:

B-roll video of storm prep and winter storm power restoration efforts

B-roll video of COVID-19 safe-work practices

High-resolution photos of winter storm power restoration work

Duke Energy

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 30,000 people and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated utilities, and 3,000 megawatts through its nonregulated Duke Energy Renewables unit.

 More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

Media contact: 800.559.3853